COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In their second different battle for sole possession of first place, the Nubians not only survived
the Warriors, they thrived against a game Eastmoor Academy (6-3; 4-2 City League) ball club who was determined to fight until the end.
In the end, the defense of Africentric (8-2, 6-0 City League) along with sharp shooting carried them to a 63-57 victory.
The first quarter started out fast, with Eastmoor racing out to a 5-0 lead until Africentric tied the game at 5. Action continued throughout the quarter as the teams traded shots and the crowd was into every dribble. The pace of the game was frantic but both teams were able to keep up in the opening quarter.
Junior Evan Meadows and sophomore James Nowell drained triples in the opening frame for the Warriors but the difference was an ice cold buzzer-beater that electric senior Dan Wagner drained from deep over Aaron Lawson to end the first eight minutes up 21-18.
Warrior senior Dennis Asoro began to assert himself in the second quarter, after scoring only two points to start the game, putting up nine points in the frame. His efforts were matched by a different cast of players as both Dan Wagner and junior Dailyn Swain were held scoreless in the second.
Deadeye shooter, sophomore Laron Fuller drained two triples while junior Preston Steele added another six and senior Josiah Smith made a bucket to offset Asoro’s magical quarter. The Nubians took a 37-29 lead into the locker room with their all-state performers only combining for only seven points.
With a concerted effort to crowd the paint and limit Asoro’s touches, Mike Bates’ bunch was able to turn the Warriors over, get in transition and get easy baskets. Eastmoor Academy kept their heads above water and continued to give themselves a puncher's chance, however, as Nowell hit a pair of three’s while Lawson made a couple of shots as well.
Holding the Warrior big man scoreless was the key to the quarter, despite the strength of Asoro, the length of the Nubians made it difficult to get shots up or even get him the ball. Eastmoor trailed by 12, 53-41, going into the final frame but Jim Miranda’s talented team was determined to make one last run.
Asoro got it going again in the final quarter, catching the ball in good position and finishing at the rim and even slamming in a nice alley-oop thrown by James Nowell.
He put up another nine point quarter as the Warriors chipped away at the lead. A timely basket from Wagner, and a triple from Dailyn Swain basically put the game away. Eastmoor Academy showed heart and resilience in the game but they ultimately fell to the Nubians 63-57.
This marks the second straight loss for Eastmoor Academy but another big day on the boards for senior Dennis Asoro who scored 20 points and was a monster on the glass. Senior point guard Aaron Lawson scored 14 points and sophomore James Nowell scored 11. Senior Alonzo Thorpe snagged 13 rebounds (wasn’t even the leading rebounder on the team) and pitched in with four points.
The explosive Nubian duo of Dan Wagner and Dailyn Swain were held to nine points a piece while senior Josiah Smith led the team in scoring with 13. Sophomore Laron Fuller combined with junior Dyson Bibins to both score 11 and junior Preston Steele added 10 points to round out the total team effort from Africentric.
This should be a message to every team in Division III, Africentric took down another high quality team on the road with their two best players combining for 18 points and that is spooky. The Nubians made a statement on Tuesday after taking down Dublin Coffman on Saturday.
Both teams are back in action at home on Friday when the Warriors look to stop the skid and get revenge for a loss earlier this season when the South Bulldogs come to Weyant Avenue.
The Nubians host the Scots of Walnut Ridge and look to stay scorching hot.
Josiah Smith (6’4 SF / Africentric / 2022): One of the best glue guys in the entire City League, Smith was in the correct spot whenever his teammates needed him on Tuesday and he paid off the trust of said teammates by scoring in different ways. The senior hit three triples, including two in the first quarter that helped steady the ship for Africentric and continue their rhythm. He cut to the basket and got behind the defense when too much attention was paid to Wagner and Swain where he finished at the rim very well, showing a soft touch at the rim. Smith is one of the unsung heroes for this team, he hustles, plays hard and is dependable in crunch time. His play will be critical as the Nubians continue to navigate the rest of this season.
Laron Fuller (5’10 G / Africentric / 2024): The Warriors continued to make the mistake of losing Fuller on the defensive end and allowing him open shots from deep and Fuller made them pay every time. Two of his three three-point makes came in crucial moments in the second quarter to quell Eastmoor Academy runs. This sophomore is one of the better shooters in the City League as a whole but he can also finish at the rim when dared to put the ball on the floor. But, there is a reason he’s known for his jumper, Fuller has one of the prettiest looking shots in the entire area with the amount of arch he gets on it and the quick release he possesses. He has been making defenses pay all season for double teaming and leaving him open. Another lesser known prospect on this team who showed up big time for the Nubians.
Dailyn Swain (6’7 SG / Africentric / 2023): After receiving a scholarship offer from Virginia Tech on Saturday, Swain displayed his versatility on both sides of the court. The junior only scored nine points but we were impressed with defense as his length presented problems for the Warriors all evening long. He played the passing lanes and created turnovers with his long arms and quick hands and he blocked a shot while effecting more. On the other side of the ball, Swain can control the offense and create his own shot off the dribble. His smooth handle allows him to get past defenders and his height allows him to shoot over defenders even when they’re in his face. The junior’s point production was not like normal but the mark of any great player is the ability to effect the game without scoring and Swain (along with Wagner for that matter) did that on Tuesday.
Dennis Asoro (6’8 TB / Eastmoor Academy / 2022): In case nobody has been paying attention, this young man has become the best big man in the City League and top three in the area. Asoro has extremely soft hands with a softer touch around the rim, he catches every pass that comes his way no matter how much steam is behind it and can finish around the basket better than any big in his class. The senior does great work before touching the ball, getting good position inside and immediately making his move to the basket. He scored 20 points and again led both teams in rebounding, grabbing another 17 rebounds. His anticipation and nose for the ball when it is in the air is uncanny. While still slightly raw as a player, Asoro is a load to handle and is still getting better. The upside of this senior is through the roof.
Aaron Lawson (6’0 PG / Eastmoor Academy / 2022): After last year’s home game against Africentric, Lawson knew he had to play better, and he did just that. The senior point guard for the Warriors scored 14 points and dished out three more assists for Eastmoor Academy and played fearless all night. He was the emotional and vocal leader for his team, making sure they never quit on this game. Lawson never got sped up, stayed at his pace and made enough plays to keep his team alive. He was also never afraid to take a challenge on defense, guarding multiple players on the court at any given time. The point guard showed heart and leadership in this game which may mean more than his nice stat line in this game.